England make Paradise first stop

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The Independent Football

The Football Association yesterday confirmed England's accommodation plans for the World Cup, which will begin with a brief stay in the Paradise Hotel on the South Korean island of Jeju.

During that pre-World Cup preparation period England will play the joint host nation South Korea in a friendly match on 21 May. They will then move to their World Cup base at the Westin Hotel on Japan's Awaji Island and play Cameroon in their final friendly on 26 May in Kobe.

England begin their Group F campaign against Sweden in Saitama on 2 June before taking on Argentina in Sapporo five days later and Nigeria in Osaka on 12 June.

Meanwhile, the England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, said yesterday that he was not unduly concerned by the number of red cards being handed out in the Premiership.

Liverpool's Jamie Carragher and Arsenal's Martin Keown were sent off in separate incidents last Sunday at Highbury. Carragher was dismissed for throwing a coin back into the crowd while Keown was punished for hauling back Michael Owen as he homed in on goal. Both men could now miss England's World Cup warm-up game against the Netherlands on 13 February.

Asked about the increasing violence in the game, Eriksson said: "I am not concerned about it. There are many good players in this country and you have to see the positive things not the negative things."

Eriksson took in Sunderland's home defeat by Middlesbrough on Tuesday night and left unimpressed with the striker Kevin Phillips. But the England coach said: "He is one who is under consideration. I know he can play better than he did. Our scouting team know about him. There are many players who are trying to come in to the squad and the door is still open."

Eriksson remained in Sunderland overnight and yesterday morning unveiled a plaque signalling the beginning of building work at the club's new training complex.

With the FA proposing to schedule one of the European Championship qualifiers at the Stadium of Light next year, Eriksson plans to use the facility, and the Swede said, "This will be an excellent training venue when we have games in the north."

Youngsters from the age of nine will share the same facilities as the senior professionals when the complex opens, probably next January.

"It is a beautiful idea," said Eriksson. "Already there is a lot of young talent coming through and I have been lucky to arrive at the right moment."

The Sunderland chairman, Bob Murray, believes the new facilities are long overdue and will benefit the manager, Peter Reid, and his coaching staff. "What we can look forward to now is some of the most advanced club facilities in the world," Murray said. "I believe Peter Reid and his staff have so far been disadvantaged compared to other Premier League clubs due to their lack of training facilities. This is gradually about to change."

Abel Xavier finally became a Liverpool player yesterday afternoon when the paperwork on his move from Everton was completed. Everton will receive an £800,000 fee, and the Portuguese defender is expected to make his debut at Leeds United on Sunday.

Xavier passed his medical on Tuesday, but the formal details of his contract and registration with the Premiership and Uefa, the governing body of European football, were only completed yesterday.

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